David Lerman

Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims
Long after hurricanes, red tape leaves relief aid unspent

It’s been more than a year and a half since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing roughly 3,000 people and causing an estimated $90 billion in damages.

But federal money for any long-term rebuilding has yet to reach those in need in the U.S. territory, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma that same month.

Taliban money and fighter jets at issue in Pentagon's $690 billion bill
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 110

House appropriators this week will take up the biggest of the 12 annual spending bills, the $690 billion Pentagon measure that includes some prickly issues such as funding for Taliban expenses for peace talks with the U.S. and money to give the Pentagon more F-35 fighter jets than it requested, says CQ Roll Call's senior defense reporter John M. Donnelly. He lays out what is likely to happen to the measure that assumes higher spending levels for fiscal 2020.

Stalemate over disaster aid frustrates states
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 109

Lawmakers are struggling to find agreement on an aid package to help states recover from natural disasters, says CQ Roll Call's budget and appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich. She lays out the issues preventing Congress from passing a disaster aid package. ...
Puerto Rico disaster aid delay could renew Democratic suspicions of Trump’s stonewalling
Puerto Rico’s $8.3 billion can’t be awarded until HUD drafts new regulations, currently awaiting White House review

A delay in the delivery of previously approved disaster aid money to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico could complicate negotiations on a new aid package just as a bipartisan compromise appears close at hand.

Puerto Rico has been awaiting $8.3 billion in mitigation funds designed to help protect against future disasters. But the money can’t be awarded until the Department of Housing and Urban Development drafts new regulations for the funding, which is part of $16 billion provided nationwide under the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program Congress approved last year.

White House Asks for $4.5 Billion Border Aid; Democrats Balk
The supplemental request doesn’t seek wall money, but Democrats may push for immigration policy changes they called harsh

The Trump administration on Wednesday requested an extra $4.5 billion to address the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border, in a move that could trigger a fresh round of criticism over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The supplemental request stops short of seeking additional money for a border wall, which Democrats have staunchly opposed. But Democrats are sure to press for changes to immigration policy they consider too harsh.

Progressive power play: Pentagon-level spending for nondefense programs
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 107

CQ Roll Call’s appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich unpacks the demands — and their possible consequences — of the Democratic Party’s progressives, who last week derailed plans to vote on raising the spending caps to prevent across-the-board spending cuts next fiscal year. ...
Congress will probably leave town without voting on a disaster bill
Partisan deadlock over how much relief aid should go to Puerto Rico is showing no signs of easing

A partisan deadlock over a disaster relief package showed no signs of easing Tuesday, as the two camps traded barbs over aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Senate Republicans made a new offer over the weekend that Democrats dismissed, weakening prospects for a deal before lawmakers leave town later this week for a two-week Easter recess. President Donald Trump has told Republicans he won’t support additional aid to Puerto Rico beyond an extra $600 million in food assistance that is already included in a GOP-written bill.

A House floor vote on spending caps could divide Democrats
As eager as Democrats are to raise spending caps, they don’t all agree on how much higher the new caps should be

The House might vote this week on a bill to raise discretionary spending limits for the next two fiscal years.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer was hedging his bets late last week, saying only that a floor vote was “possible.”

Divided Democrats may forgo a budget resolution
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 105

The House Budget Committee may punt on a fiscal 2020 budget resolution to avoid exposing Democratic caucus fissures over tax and spending policy. But an effort to reach a deal to raise spending limits for the coming fiscal year could prove just as dicey, as Lindsey McPherson explains.

The Crime Victims Fund is not just for victims
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 104

A fund designed to help crime victims is also used by lawmakers as an annual budgetary gimmick to help pay for other programs. But the victims fund is starting to run dry, making appropriations decisions tougher, as our tax and fiscal policy reporter Doug Sword explains.

Show Notes:

How Congress might rewrite Trump’s budget
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 103

The president has proposed deep cuts to planned spending in Medicare and Medicaid, while trying to uphold austere limits on nondefense discretionary spending. But Congress is already talking about a rewrite. CQ's Kellie Mejdrich explains what lawmakers might have in mind. ...
10 things to know about the $4.7 trillion Trump budget
The bottom line: Presidential budgets are called aspirational for good reason

Here are the top 10 things to know about President Donald Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget request for the coming fiscal year:

1. Military spending would go up. A deficit reduction law calls for a cut of 11 percent, or $71 billion, to regular national security spending, which doesn’t include war-related costs. But the Trump administration would skirt that law by pumping $165 billion into a war-related account that is exempt from spending limits, even though the money isn’t needed for overseas conflicts. The result would be a 5 percent increase to defense, which would total $750 billion in fiscal 2020.

Trump budget request triggers clash with Congress
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 102

Spending cuts, growth outpace tax cuts, military increases

President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.7 trillion budget request for fiscal 2020 that would boost military funding, cut non-defense programs and intensify the partisan fight over a southern border wall.

The tax and spending blueprint calls for saving $2.8 trillion over the coming decade by cutting non-defense discretionary programs, curbing health care costs, imposing tougher work requirements on welfare programs and restructuring federal student loans, among other things.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

Spending deal at mercy of Trump budget, debt limit and border money
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 101

President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 budget request, due out next week, is likely to skirt a defense spending cap to boost the military while proposing deep cuts to nondefense programs. CQ's Paul M. Krawzak explains how the White House blueprint is sure to trigger a new showdown over spending limits,  along with the need to increase the debt limit and the continuing battle over border wall funds.

Show Notes:

Breaking a trust to build the wall
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 100

CQ’s award-winning defense reporter John M. Donnelly revealed that a Pentagon fund that President Donald Trump wants to use to pay for his wall is nearly depleted, forcing him to look elsewhere in the Pentagon budget for the money. Trump appears poised to break tradition and bypass Congress in this money transfer, and Donnelly says that “would tear a hole in the fabric of cooperation between the White House and the Congress.”